AN: Wow, it's been ages since I've written a new HoND fic. Well, the characters belong to Disney and Victor Hugo, but I'll bet you knew that. This was partly inspired by sandy000004 (I just know I forgot a zero or two), who wrote a similar fic (well, it involved Phoebus musing while he watched Esmeralda dance) and called to my attention to the fact that there's almost no Esmeralda and Phoebus fanfic. Just like that, this idea came into my head. It's one of my shorter fics, but hey, it's something.
"To Dance with a Gypsy"
There she was, spinning around in her dizzying way, her bare feet leaping off the cobblestone ground, driving a few men to whistle even though they clearly saw the engagement ring she wore. Her tambourine vibrated in her hand as she held it over her head, rapping it every few seconds. Her mane of thick black hair swirled around her, almost carrying its own life, dancing on its own.
As he stood in the crowd that mostly consisted of males, Phoebus was just as intoxicated as he always was when he saw her dance. In fact, he wished the other men would stop whistling, or that the gypsy playing the lute would tell them to stop whistling, or that he himself could tell them to stop whistling and they would actually listen.
All right then, let them whistle. They weren't wearing an engagement ring identical to hers. They weren't going to marry her in a week's time. A week . . . was it really a week? A whole week before they would officially belong to each other?
She winked at him as she spun around, and of course, some of the other males thought the wink was meant for them and started whistling again. Phoebus hardly remembered to wink back – by now his stomach was beginning to twist from these other men whistling at her. He knew perfectly well what they wanted.
But then again, was he any less shallow when he first saw her?
He wanted to think he was different from these men. After all, he had helped her escape the soldiers not five minutes after first seeing her. None of these men would do something like that, right?
Well . . . maybe some of them would.
But they didn't know Esmeralda. They didn't know her cleverness, her beautiful heart, her sharp wit. They didn't know she enjoyed soaking her feet in the water, how she always tossed a bit of food to Djali before eating herself, how she sometimes stood outside and just gazed up at the stars.
But then again, Phoebus didn't know these things when he first saw her either.
His teeth started to grind together. Wasn't there anything that separated him from these men? He had been Captain of the Guard, the one who had the authority to get the soldiers to stop chasing her. But if any of these other men were Captain of the Guard, they might have stopped them too. She saved him from drowning . . . but if any of these other men were in trouble, wouldn't she save them too? Wasn't it in her compassionate nature to save people?
The man next to him whistled again and dropped a handful of coins into the hat always guarded by Djali – just like Phoebus did that first day. Damn, wasn't there anything these other men wouldn't do? By now he was having to bite his tongue in order to restrain himself from telling them all to go away, that Esmeralda was his and his alone.
The music stopped, quite suddenly to Phoebus, who had long ago stopped listening. Esmeralda held the tambourine over her head, shaking it loudly as she posed and smiled for the crowd, who of course, went wild in their applause. Phoebus clapped, though he should have been cheering like these other men. He should be cheering louder than anyone else, but somehow he couldn't find the energy to do so. What was wrong with him? How could he possibly be measuring himself against these strangers? Was he really so low in confidence that he had to convince himself that he was somehow better than all these others?
Then Esmeralda stepped up to him – him, not anyone else – her satin scarf dangling from her hand, a large smile on her face, that smile that could so easily cast a spell on him. For a moment she simply stared at him with those beautiful green eyes, then suddenly she leapt up, throwing her scarf around his neck, and said, "Dance with me!" in her cheerful voice. She pulled him forward as the lute music started playing again and before he knew it, he was holding her hands, dancing in a circle with her. For a minute or two he was looking down, concentrating on not letting his clumsy boots crush her light bare feet, but he gradually found himself swept up into the rhythm of the dance. Were the men still whistling? He couldn't tell – all he could here was the merry tune of the lute and all he could see were his fiancée's eyes. He was dizzy, maybe just from the spinning or maybe from her very presence.
In one week they would be dancing like this at their wedding. Their hands would be joined eternally, the world would see them as forever connected. Would other men still whistle at her then? Probably, but they would know not to do anything more than whistle.
In fact, he'd let them whistle. They could whistle all they wanted and it wouldn't change a thing. Maybe they would stop soldiers from arresting her if they got the opportunity. Maybe she would save them if they were in danger. Most of them were probably wholly descent people who would help anyone in need if they were able.
But right now he didn't care about them, he hardly even noticed them anymore. The only reality was his wife to be.
The woman who loved him.